Sunday, May 13, 2007

The modern woman?

Recently, a fellow blogger wrote a post on how his mother got offended by the idea of divorce to a brutal husband. To me, with all my airs of modernity and independence, it sounds very clearly an irrational reaction. Perhaps in her case, it can be explained away with the mindset of her generation, or perhaps a social/financial dependence.

However, it appears that the persistence of women in unhappy marriages continues. Just yesterday I watched a movie "Life in a metro", where the portrayal of a modern woman by Shilpa Shetty was bound with the same cliche' constraints. She gives up her attachment to a sensitive man when her erroneous and disgustingly chauvinist husband returns home. Perhaps this was only a cinematic exaggeration of reality and cinema's obsession with portraying the heroine as morality/selflessness personified.
Yet some small incidents indicate that even the modern, well-educated, financially self-sufficient woman finds it hard to put her terms in the marriage. Perhaps one of the biggest indicators is the number of well qualified women who leave their jobs and sit at home. In my own small circle I know women educated from IITs/IIMs who are not working anymore. And I cringe when I hear of each such case. Then there are many friends who continue with overpossessive, abusive boyfriends, unable to break away.

Though I am not a feminist, being a woman myself has led me to have several debates with some of the 'broad-minded' men of today. Some of them arrogantly claim that they will not mind if their wives want to work - as if it was their prerogative to decide. Others explain that the motive of education is not only to work and earn money but to open the mind as well - therefore a non-working woman is not 'wasting' her education. It is ironical that the same men sometimes are seen explaining the importance of hard-earned money to these wives. There are yet others who say that why should their wives go through the hassles of working when they have the capability to feed them!!

I am not claiming that things have not improved from before. The financial independence has given significant self esteem to most women, and at least some manage to break away from unhappy marriages. The domestic burdens too are shared with greater equality in many homes, and working couple is a common term.
Yet there are those gaps that remain. Most 'seperated' women either stay single or enter into another compromising marriage. The arrival of a child often brings about a termination of the mother's career. And women like me are often asked in interviews about my career goals post marriage. I can almost always see them mentally calculating the time when I will plan a baby and either quit or stop being useful for the firm.
I don't know who is to blame for these small gaps. Is it the burden of ages that we have been carrying? Or the stubbornness of men to let go of their carefully protected dominant position? Or the biological factors that make women more accepting (the whole XY,YY explanation)? Or better still, we can blame it on Eve and her lust for the apple - after all she is not even there to defend.

4 comments:

contrarian said...

Is it actually about any blame games or is it just another excuse or just another brick in the wall?

Madhuri said...

Neither actually - its a thought.

runawaysun said...

Since your post touched upon careers and the modern woman, I thought of sharing a personal episode.

Not too long ago, as a manager in a large and well-known Indian company, I was responsible for hiring people. In one such selection process, we had shortlisted candidates for a marketing position after written tests and group discussions. The final interviews were left to be done.

While interviewing the shortlisted candidates, a senior colleague and I came upon a very intelligent person – a modern woman. She answered our questions confidently and well. At the end of the interview, my senior colleague filled in the candidate’s evaluation form as follows (while signing his name at the bottom of the sheet with great aplomb):
Very Good
Good
Excellent
Very Good
Very Good
Excellent
Very Good
REJECTED.

Naturally, I was taken aback and asked him why he had rejected the candidate. He replied, “Didn’t you read her CV? She’s a divorcee.” I objected. My senior colleague explained that divorcees were unstable and untrustworthy. I said this was nonsense and decided to take the matter up with the Vice President of my Division.

To my surprise, the Vice President took my senior colleague’s side and rejected the candidate for the same reason: being a divorcee. Going so far as to suggest that the divorcee, if hired, would tempt the male executives into promiscuity and soon the company would be rife with scandals...

I’m not sure if this story has a moral. But, what’s dangerous for the modern woman is that, today, men like my two senior colleagues are at large, sitting in responsible positions in the corporate world, deciding on the careers of modern women (like yourself).

Abeyaby said...

Mmmm,...things are much deeper than that. What you project seems to be a symptom of a broader malaise called socio-cultural psyche built over generations.